In early January, we had our first meeting of the new year. There is a core group of girls that attend and it was these girls that attended this meeting. Early on, when we first started mid-2016, some expressed limiting the attendance to those who are committed and I think this has naturally happened. It has worked out for the best in multiple ways.
For this meeting, it meant that I only had a ‘class’ of eight girls. This made it a heck of a lot easier teaching them how to make friendship bracelets. In an ideal classroom setting, I would have had a camera focused on my hands, hooked up to a television screen or projector so all could watch from the comfort of their own seat. Instead, I took advantage of them arriving at different times to give them individual attention as we got started on the most basic pattern. At the height, I had the girls elbow to elbow crowded around the back racks of two bicycles.
Naturally, some girls’ aptitude for this kind of activity had them finishing faster than others. What was excellent was a couple girls learned so fast they went beyond what I had planned to teach, so I was able to show them more patterns to work on. I was running around working individually with the girls who were having a harder time and making more sets of string because the twenty I prepared were quickly used up. I did not notice that two hours had gone by and the girls were STILL going! I had to keep my excitement in check. We had hit on something we all enjoyed! I was the one who had to tell them to go home. But not before I gave them each a new set of string to continue and made clear that once they were done and if they wanted more, to come see me and I could give them more because practice was the only way to get better. Before the day was over half the girls had come back multiple times for more and each time had noticeably improved. The other half I saw throughout the week and all showed me what they had done. It was amazing to see them experiment; they had incorporated beads and attempted new patterns. I loved seeing this creativity.
Unfortunately I had to leave my village a few days after, so in an effort to keep this momentum, I bought more string colors and made enough sets for each girl to have at least three to play and experiment with while I was gone. I also made some bracelets myself and took them to show the girls to see more patterns and inspire more ideas. It was Ajara who said we could make NPP color bracelets. NPP is the new ruling political power in Ghana and the new president, Nana Akufo Addo, was inaugurated on 7 January. I had not even thought about that and kicked myself for not having done this workshop before the elections in December 2016 – we could have made bank with NPP and NDC (the two most popular political parties of Ghana) themed bracelets! This did however make me remember that 6 March is Ghanaian Independence Day and everybody celebrates with big gatherings, marches and performances. I refuse to miss another opportunity like this. We could sell Ghana flag color bracelets at 20 and 50 pesawas (.05 – .20 USD cents) depending on difficulty and design. Material cost is so low (one ball of string is either 1 cedi or 1.50 cedis (.25 – .35 USD cents)) and I have yet to calculate the range of how many bracelets each could make but the return is obviously high. As long as we sell, of course.
I want independence day to be a test. If we work a little everyday making bracelets for the entire month of February, we would have a decent supply to sell on the day. If this is a success, yes it would be great money-wise but more importantly it would be a giant boost in confidence for the girls.